Referrals are one of today’s popular drivers of marketing success. You could even say that word-of-mouth is the ideal connecting point between your clients and services. Its capacity to inspire trust in your brand is heaven sent for the marketers who need it most.

A referral’s recommendation fills in a critical gap in a conversation where prospects hold 50% of their opinion while companies hold the other 50%. Not to mention, you hear about businesses building and breaking trust all the time. Referrals represent an honesty that can be hard to find in marketing nowadays.

This helps when plenty of decision makers are wary of marketers, raising defenses to prevent messages from sounding too good to be true. This doubt is natural but that doesn’t make it any less of an obstacle to engagement.

That is why honesty in referrals is critical. If there is no honesty even in the word of those who can vouch for you, what hope is there of any more trust? Therefore, keep the following aspects in mind when gauging the trustworthiness of those referring your business:

  • Proven trust – There is a difference between trust that his gained and trust that is proven. The former is still only word but the latter is already deed. Hence, your referrals need the backing of people who can testify for the results you gave them. Other means of proving are market influencers and industry leaders. Don’t just stick to making promises and show the ones you’ve already kept.
  • Expected downfalls – The same is true for your pitfalls. Of course, you shouldn’t let them turn off your prospects and clients. But when coming from someone else’s mouth, it’s better for them to be honest about the risks and possible setbacks when working with your business. This not only shows transparency but it’s also a form of feedback that reminds your business on what needs improving.
  • A level of humility – Referrals should avoid coming off as overbearing. If your marketers have already roused suspicion that way, how worse will it be for them? The mark of a good referral is one that doesn’t have too much of a vested interest in your business. This comes with a certain humility that doesn’t brag about you too much.
  • No overpromising – Overpromising is a clear mark of a bad referral. It can raise trust and expecting far beyond your business’ capacity.  It can also damage the reputation of both parties involve. Have a means of monitoring and approving your referrals to avoid this.
  • Consistency – Referrals shouldn’t be parroting but neither should they give two drastically different accounts. That will just confuse prospects and increase mistrust. Draw a line on what they must have in common when testifying on behalf of your business. Present results that are consistent with the promises and brand messages you send.

With social media only adding to the power of word-of-mouth, trust is rarer and more valuable technology. Anyone can just look up your business and take someone else’s word against yours. You can use this to your advantage instead but you have to do it while preserving the value of trust that referrals should have in the first place.